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Don't Throw Out Those Videotapes - Converting VHS Tapes to CDs, DVDs Involves More Crash Than Burn
The Wall Street Journal ^ | Wednesday, July 30, 2003 | WALTER S. MOSSBERG

Posted on 07/30/2003 7:25:43 AM PDT by TroutStalker

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:49:31 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

Millions of people have committed their family memories to videotape -- either the small tapes used in camcorders or larger ones used in VCRs. But videotapes can start losing color and disintegrating after a few years. So there's huge interest in transferring these coveted memories to DVDs or CDs, which have a longer life span and are easier to navigate.


(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: dvd
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I found out the hard way that what sounds like a simple idea can cause months of frustration. When I bought my new computer last December, I was recovering from surgery and thought I could spend my time converting Hi8 video from almost ten years of family events and vacations into edited DVDs.

To do so, I bought a Dell Dimension 8250 P-4 2.4Gh computer with video capture card and analog converter, Roxio VideoWave Movie Maker software and a DVD+R/RW CD-RW burner. Almost eight months later, I have been able to capture only several video clips from analog (digital works better), and have been able to burn zero DVDs. Right out of the box, nothing seemed able to function properly. And I made this purchase because of Dell's wonderful reputation for quality! Trying to get the problems fixed showed me that the Dell reputation for service was equally untrue.

After seven months, I have had the following hardware replaced: video capture card, motherboard, hard drive (twice), and DVD burner. I have also spent more hours that I can recall on the phone with techs in India having me do the same things over and over again. You have to spend at least four hours on the phone before thay will send someone out to swap a component. The net result of all this: the system is so screwed up that what used to work now doesn't.

When the last onsite visit last week didn't produce any results (it didn't even recognize a DVD player, let alone burner when replaced), and when I mentioned that I happened to have an appointment scheduled with an attorney, Dell agreed to a system swap. It's been one week and still no new box. When it arrives, and if it still doesn't work, there will be hell to pay.

So if you are thinking of trying one of these devices, save your money and wait until someone finally figures out how to do it.

1 posted on 07/30/2003 7:25:43 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
I've got two Sony Vaio's with GigaPocket and have not experienced any problems recording to DVD.
2 posted on 07/30/2003 7:29:57 AM PDT by Solson (Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. - Von Goethe)
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To: TroutStalker
wait until someone finally figures out how to do it.

The "someone" you're looking for is here

3 posted on 07/30/2003 7:30:27 AM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Solson
Have you used them to capture analog video?
4 posted on 07/30/2003 7:33:13 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
I have the latest model Dell, 3.06 chip microburst technology...fully loaded. I use the the Roxio software and I use my Digital Sony Camcorder and a plain ol' VCR and it works great. I've burned all kinds of DVD's and it works great.
5 posted on 07/30/2003 7:33:24 AM PDT by Heff (NJ Needs Auto Insurance reform!!!!!)
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To: Izzy Dunne
I considered Apple, but didn't want the additional expense of replacing all my software.
6 posted on 07/30/2003 7:34:49 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: Heff
Hopefully, my replacement will work as well. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been with this not working, and Dell's inability to fix it.
7 posted on 07/30/2003 7:37:49 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
Yup. The only problem I had on the first Vaio was making sure I had the right media. The earlier Vaio DVD burner only accepts DVD-R's so that took some time but it seems to work fine.

Right on the front and the back of the Vaio are RCA inputs along with S-Video inputs. It's really nice so far.

8 posted on 07/30/2003 7:38:00 AM PDT by Solson (Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. - Von Goethe)
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To: TroutStalker
My solution:

New Camcorder will make this easier than a new computer.

I have a Sony Digital 8. ($750) works great.

VCR (any) RCA out to Camcorder - Fire Wire (Card and Cable $30) in to Dell PIII 1Gig. running Ulead Video Studio ($70) burning to CDRW (as mpeg or VCD). I don't have a DVD-R so have not been able to try Uleads DVD writing but the VCDs work great.

Very Simple. Great Results.




9 posted on 07/30/2003 7:40:17 AM PDT by Grit (Tolerance for all but the intolerant...and those who tolerate intolerance etc etc)
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To: TroutStalker
And I made this purchase because of Dell's wonderful reputation for quality!

It's not a reputation, it's slick advertising.

If you want genuine high quality, get a Mac.

10 posted on 07/30/2003 7:40:19 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: Solson
If the replacement system doesn't work, I guess I will have to get what you have. It really burns me to have nothing to show for a half year of frustration.
11 posted on 07/30/2003 7:41:17 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: All
.
I use a standalone DVD recorder and all is good :)
Plus I can record movies off the Dish right to DVD-R or DVD-RAM
.
12 posted on 07/30/2003 7:41:24 AM PDT by CygnusXI (All in jest of course... and a big spoon at that!)
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To: Heff
If there is interest here I can let you know EXACTLY how to do it EVERY time...

I actually started my own biography business here in the DFW area and have to do this quite frequently.

Biggest problems I have right now is how to get Super 8 to tape so I can work with it from there.

Oh, and the best website to read about this stuff is www.dvdrhelp.com
13 posted on 07/30/2003 7:42:00 AM PDT by STFrancis
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To: TroutStalker
?So if you are thinking of trying one of these devices, save your money and wait until someone finally figures out how to do it.?

I did figure it out.

About 3 years ago I bought a Dazzle DVC Video converter. It has USB I/F and I am running a Win98 450 Mhz PC. In fact, it looks alot like the Video Oh! unit from Adaptec in the WSJ article. It was abou5 $250 when I bought it.

I have converted alot of video of family events and such, it has never given me a problem. The longest video I have converted was a wedding video which was over an hour.

The max resolution is only 352x240, but this has not been a problem so far because I haven?t tried to capture any really high-res source material with it. I wish it had some more features, such as capture to MPEG-2 instead of just MPEG-1 format and it could use some better video editing s/w (video editing is a painfully slow process!), but until I have a faster computer it?s not really going to be an option to upgrade to another capture device.
14 posted on 07/30/2003 7:42:22 AM PDT by webstersII
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To: Grit
I have a digital Sony now, but what I really want to convert is older video with people who are now deceased.
15 posted on 07/30/2003 7:43:23 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: Grit
Will your Camcorder record from VCR source material that has macrovision encoding? I heard from someone that it would not record anything like movie clips from rented or purchased movies.
16 posted on 07/30/2003 7:45:06 AM PDT by webstersII
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To: TroutStalker
I have an RZ14G and more recently an RZ32G. The 32 is on sale right now at Best Buy(among other places) and is a pretty solid system. The software for recording from analog is "Click to DVD" and includes a capture card to take analog and digitize it. The Giga Pocket software allows you to take the signal from cable or satellite or antenna and bring it right on to your PC to act much like a Tivo system.

A couple of links...

http://reviews.cnet.com/Sony_VAIO_PCV_RZ16G/4505-3119_7-20449335-3.html

http://select.ssdonline.com/detail_page.cfm?ProductID=PCVRZ32G&Categoryid=1&cfid=5561088&cftoken=58021441

17 posted on 07/30/2003 7:48:41 AM PDT by Solson (Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. - Von Goethe)
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To: TroutStalker
Wait a minute. They are converting video on a laptop? One good reason for their problems right there.
18 posted on 07/30/2003 7:50:10 AM PDT by txzman (Jer 23:29)
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To: STFrancis
Starting a business was a possible consideration when planning to do this project. I can see where there could be a demand for this type of service. Hope yours is doing well. Thank for the website recommendation.
19 posted on 07/30/2003 7:50:35 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
Can't you input into your Sony Digital and record onto Mini-DV? From there you can take it into you desktop. That may an option...cumbersome but no additional cost.
20 posted on 07/30/2003 7:51:34 AM PDT by Solson (Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. - Von Goethe)
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To: TroutStalker
You need to visit www.dvdrhelp.com . This site provides the most comprehensive help in regard to making VCD,s Super VCD's and DVD's that I've ever seen..I've made great quality VCD's and DVD's, by following the instructions provided by the guys on this site. Go to the forums...post your questions regarding any problems you may be having..the help that you WILL recieve here is a hundred times better than any help you may have recieved from a script reading helpdesk located in India.
21 posted on 07/30/2003 7:53:08 AM PDT by Biblical Calvinist (Sola Deo Gloria !)
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To: Solson
Thanks for the links. I suppose my first mistake was not posting a vanity on FR asking for recommendations.
22 posted on 07/30/2003 7:53:40 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker
Well, I do not convert for money. Simply don't have the time to do that and there is starting to be a lot of competition to make it worth my while. However, I create biographies for people in which I INCLUDE this old footage.

For instance... I interview Grandpa about his childhood, videotape it with digital camcorder, then include old pictures, video footage (which is why I convert) and music.

It's just a fun thing I did for my family and am not starting to do for other people.

Anyone got a CHEAP but HIGH QUALITY idea about converting Super 8 to video..?

Oh, if you want to buy a device like the above use the Canopus ADVC-100. Perfect clips each and every time. Check the web for reviews etc.. Even though a little pricey at $299.
23 posted on 07/30/2003 7:56:41 AM PDT by STFrancis
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To: Solson
That may be an option, but I want the system I paid for to work. If it means suing Dell for my money back and getting the Sony, so be it.
24 posted on 07/30/2003 7:57:20 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: Biblical Calvinist
Totally 100% agree.... And to think it all started and exists because people wanted to burn their ahem illegaly downloaded newly released movies to CD (it used to be www.vcdhelp.com....
25 posted on 07/30/2003 7:58:45 AM PDT by STFrancis
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To: Biblical Calvinist
That's exactly what I got, scripted help.
26 posted on 07/30/2003 7:59:04 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: All
I have to leave for a while, but will check in later.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

27 posted on 07/30/2003 8:00:58 AM PDT by TroutStalker
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To: Solson
I have some old 8mm film of family taken in the 50's and 60's. I would like to put these on tape or DVD. Is this possible?
28 posted on 07/30/2003 8:03:11 AM PDT by lardog
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To: Izzy Dunne
apple = harware good
management = a bunch of leftist extremists

;>)
29 posted on 07/30/2003 8:12:24 AM PDT by steplock (www.FOCUS.GOHOTSPRINGS.com)
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To: TroutStalker
I use pinnacle 8 and tape the older VHS tapes onto my digital camera and then edit on the computer.

Pinnacle 8 is a good program, a bit unstable at times, but it works for me.

30 posted on 07/30/2003 8:17:38 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: lardog
Yes it is. You have a couple of choices doing it:

A) Go to Walgreens and use their service to do it for you (it's a little pricey but worth it). Or another professional conversion service.

B) Set up a Super 8 projector, display it onto screen then tape it with a digital camcorder

C) Buy a Super 8 - Video converter and do it that way (about $1,000)
31 posted on 07/30/2003 8:19:25 AM PDT by STFrancis
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To: lardog
Perhaps. My Dad had the same question. I would think you would have to play them onto a TV, record to VCR and take the VCR to the DVD but I'm just guessing there. I've only taken VCR tapes to DVD and video camera...nothing prior.
32 posted on 07/30/2003 8:19:59 AM PDT by Solson (Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. - Von Goethe)
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To: Solson
Super 8 is actual film not tape. You need a projector for that.
33 posted on 07/30/2003 8:27:40 AM PDT by STFrancis
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To: TroutStalker
I've been doing this for over two years with my Dazzle that plugs in via USB. The author did not investigate well.
34 posted on 07/30/2003 8:46:16 AM PDT by ImaGraftedBranch (Education starts in the home. Education stops in the public schools)
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To: TroutStalker
MPEG1 and MPEG2 are very poor formats for capturing video.

I suggest a free software you can get off the web which is called Virtualdub (there are many favors of this software, so if one does not work, try another one)

Also, I suggest you get Divx 5.0.3 or higher, it is a good format. But is costs $30.00 to use it without the spyware to create video files.

I have a 2200 XP CPU with 512 megs (DDR 333mhz) of ram and the 64mb 8500 DVD ATI All-in-Wonder video card.

When using Virtualdub to capture video I had a problem with frames dropping, I solved this problem by lowering the screen resolution to 800 by 600 pixels. Now I have no problems capturing video (and audio at 187 kbps) at the NTSC standard 29.97 frames per second at a resolution of 640 by 480 with a data rate of 7800 bits a second (100% quailty on a Divx '1 Pass Quailty Based' capture).

35 posted on 07/30/2003 8:48:58 AM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: TroutStalker
Trying to get the problems fixed showed me that the Dell reputation for service was equally untrue.

Isn't that the truth! After wasting hours on two different unresolved problems, dealing with Dell's "support" representatives in India, I have given up on them, and I now go out of my way to warn others about doing business with Dell.

36 posted on 07/30/2003 8:57:35 AM PDT by The Electrician
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To: nutmeg
read later bump
37 posted on 07/30/2003 8:58:21 AM PDT by nutmeg (Is the DemocRATic party extinct yet?)
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To: TroutStalker
I can tell from several things in this article that the people writing it know very little about what they are talking about.

First of all, if you are converting VHS to digital format, there is no point burning it to DVD, you can not increase the quality of the picture by changing the format, so you might as well go with converting it to VCD or SVCD format and save a bit of money. The only exception I can think of is if you want to put more on a single disk than the VCD format will allow, THEN VHS->DVD can make sense, as long as your software allows you to encode the .vob files with a bitrate that isn't overkill for VHS.

Second, spending $200 for a thing to capture video is IMHO a waste. If you aren't into heavy duty 3D gaming on your PC, you can pick up an old used ATI All in Wonder video card very cheap, and they do a great job of captuing analog video, plus you can also watch Fox News while surfing Free Republic, and capture movies or stills directly from TV.

If changing your video card is not what you want to do, ATI has a external box (the TV Wonder) that plugs into your USB port giving you the TV in/out features needed to capture VHS to digital format. ATI has been producing these kinds of products much longer and does it better.

You will also need a LOT of disk space to do this, digial video files get very large, expecially if the capture device doesn't store the video in a compressed format.

If you have a lot of VHS tapes that you want to transfer, I've seen stand alone devices out there that record from VHS->VCD in real time, it's like a VCR with a burner built in, just pop in the tape and a blank CD, press record and let it run. They are not easy to find however, and are also very expensive (about $1000 last time I saw one)


38 posted on 07/30/2003 8:58:42 AM PDT by Grig
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To: TroutStalker
read later
39 posted on 07/30/2003 9:00:55 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Solson
Bump for later read.
40 posted on 07/30/2003 9:06:46 AM PDT by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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To: Grig
If you want to do it on a stand slone basis, the best way is to buy one of the new DVD recorders, like the ones made by Panasonic. Their most expensive (current list price of $799.00) records on a DVD and on an 80 gig hard drive. Their less expensive ones, which only record on DVDs, run as little as about $500. All you need to do is plug your analog output from a VCR or camcorder into any of these machines and make the desired recording. I've done it several times with my Panasonic.
41 posted on 07/30/2003 9:14:16 AM PDT by libstripper
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To: Paul C. Jesup
Problem is that if ya want to put that Divx file onto a VCD or DVD, it HAS to be RE-ENCODED into an Mpeg-2 file ! Lotta work in either case...~ :>)
42 posted on 07/30/2003 9:15:22 AM PDT by Biblical Calvinist (Sola Deo Gloria !)
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To: TroutStalker
If you can play it in a VCR you can record it onto the Digital Sony.
43 posted on 07/30/2003 9:28:03 AM PDT by Grit (Tolerance for all but the intolerant...and those who tolerate intolerance etc etc)
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To: webstersII
Will your Camcorder record from VCR source material that has macrovision encoding? I heard from someone that it would not record anything like movie clips from rented or purchased movies.

That's a good question. I don't think that I have tried yet. I would not be surprised. My new Sony VCR wouldn't tape a few DVD's that I own that my old VCR had no problem with. That's a new 'feature' that I could do without.

44 posted on 07/30/2003 9:30:48 AM PDT by Grit (Tolerance for all but the intolerant...and those who tolerate intolerance etc etc)
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To: Grig
First of all, if you are converting VHS to digital format, there is no point burning it to DVD, you can not increase the quality of the picture by changing the format, so you might as well go with converting it to VCD or SVCD format and save a bit of money.

There may be a point to burning to DVD. DVD player compatibility. My Toshiba player is pretty picky about which formats it will play (right down to the brand of CD I use when making VCD's) As many have said www.vcdhelp.com (dvdrhelp.com) is an invaluable resource.

45 posted on 07/30/2003 9:38:04 AM PDT by Grit (Tolerance for all but the intolerant...and those who tolerate intolerance etc etc)
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To: Grit
If you have a commercial VHS you want to transfer to DVD, just rent the DVD of the same movie (if you can) and use something like CladDVD to strip off macrovision and region coding before you burn a copy DVD. (I'm assuming that since you purchased a commerial copy of the movie on VHS that you can legally make a DVD backup this way)
46 posted on 07/30/2003 9:44:02 AM PDT by Grig
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To: Grig
I have one of those machines, called a TERAPIN VCD RECORDER, (the official website http://www.terapintech.com/index.php) This recorder will record only Mpeg-1 files, directly onto CD..it can record video up to 75 minutes on one cd. It's great for transfering home movies to VDC format..the website lists that it cost $499 ...BUT look around.. there are lots of dealers on the Net that sell this VCD Recorder for under $299..I know that I've seen it at MicroCenter for $300. I got mine at SAMS CLUB for $216 about a year ago.. but, I KNOW that they were NOT going to order any more units.

You can also find 'em for sale on Ebay.

These Mpeg-1 files CAN be transfered to a DVD using TmpgEnc DVD Author..and they look great on DVD..

The Terapin VCD Recorder works better and EASIER than many other methods..I just wish that it would record in Mpeg-2 format, or even directly into Divx AVI format. But that's just a minor quibble.. I really have no problem...this recorder DOES what it does in a neat way ~

At any rate, I can then play the finished VCDs on ANY stand alone DVD player. It's a great little machine ~!
47 posted on 07/30/2003 9:44:38 AM PDT by Biblical Calvinist (Sola Deo Gloria !)
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To: Biblical Calvinist
Problem is that if ya want to put that Divx file onto a VCD or DVD, it HAS to be RE-ENCODED into an Mpeg-2 file ! Lotta work in either case...~ :>)

No you don't, if you just intend to play it on you computer you can just set your CD/DVD Writer to Data Disc Writing and you will not have a problem. :p

48 posted on 07/30/2003 10:12:21 AM PDT by Paul C. Jesup
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To: TroutStalker
I can't offer you an inexpensive solution but I can give you one that is 99.99% sure to work. Here is the hardware and software that I use to push any VHS tape including VHS tapes copy protected with Macrovision to a DVD disk that will play in any standard set top DVD player:

Buy a Cannopus ADVC-100 A/D converter ~ $300. This connects between the videotape player and your computer via firewire and passes the analog signal on to your TV so that you can monitor video while you are capturing.

Download and buy ScenanalyzerLive for $33. This softare will take the digitized output of the ADVC-100 via your firewire input and write the videotape video to multiple .avi files that can viewed using Windows Media Player.

Buy Vegas 4.0 +DVD. That will cost you a bit but includes both Vegas 4.0 and DVD Architect. This package is priced at about $550. In Vegas just drag and drop the .avi files in order onto the timeline. Render this file to mpeg-2 with audio. You don't even need to save the Vegas Project file. Once you have the mpeg-2 that's all you need.

Open up DVD Architect. Select New file - make a single movie and select the Vegas generated mpeg-2 file. Push the make a DVD button and presto you have a your VHS tape on DVD.

This all takes about 3-5 hours for a typical 1 hour tape but once you get the hang of it you do all the work you need to do in about 15 minutes. The rest is just waiting on the computer to make the mpeg-2 file and then print the DVD.

OK, so I lied about the presto part. The rest is all true.

Good luck.

49 posted on 07/30/2003 10:17:22 AM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: Paul C. Jesup
Yes, you're correct.. the AVI file can be burned in Data Format on an ordinary CD...but ya can't play it back anywhere BUT on a PC..on the other hand...if you re-encode the AVI file into the Mpeg-1 or Mpeg-2 format; using the TmpgEnc software, you can then burn it with the VCDEasy software, then play it back on any DVD Player that accepts the VCD format.
50 posted on 07/30/2003 10:18:47 AM PDT by Biblical Calvinist (Sola Deo Gloria !)
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